After a personal visit by God himself, the eccentric construction worker Gary Faulkner takes the decision to embark on an adventure in the badlands of Pakistan to bring Al-Qaeda's leader Osama Bin Laden to justice.
A powerful action thriller, ARSENAL tells the intertwining stories of the Lindel brothers, Mikey (Johnathon Schaech) and JP (Adrian Grenier), who had only each other to rely on growing up. As adults, JP found success as the owner of a construction company, while Mikey became a small-time mobster, mired in a life of petty crime. When Mikey is kidnapped and held for a ransom by ruthless crime boss Eddie King (Nicolas Cage), JP turns to the brothers' old pal Sal (John Cusack), a plain clothes detective for help. In order to rescue his brother, JP must risk everything and unleash his vengeance against King's relentless army of gangsters.
This review of Southern Fury (Arsenal) is spoiler free
PERHAPS SURPRISINGLY GIVEN that his name is at the top of the cast list we don't see Nicholas Cage's hard-headed villain, Eddie King for about half an hour into Southern Fury, at which point given his short screen time he gives a lengthy monologue which is over-the-top even by Cage standards. It's a solid performance, as the cold blooded killer that's also quite funny with his fake nose and mustache combo, his snickering and his dog-like growls, an interesting styling to this slight silly take to The King of Comedy.
Inexplicably styled in the wrong way as this interesting premise is constantly destroyed by director Steven C.Miller's historic tendencies to go overboard. Unfortunately that is the only interesting thing about Southern Fury (had a name change in the UK from Arsenal for obvious reasons) although the players only have access to a handgun for most of the time. The final result is a poorly titled, pretentiously boring - frankly silly gangster thriller. Firstly opening poorly with Adrian Grenier's (his second collaboration with Miller, the first was last year's Marauders) J.P Lindel a construction worker, who only gives one line via a poorly narrated script.
There is an earnest flashback showing his rough childhood with older brother Mikey, who even then liked to get into trouble with his friends it's a lengthy flashback that gives the film it's latter for emotion but is roughly done by the director. The film skips 23 years to an older Grenier, who's now a father and a husband and also enjoys time with his best friend John Cusack's Sal - a plainly dressed undercover cop who investigates the rough streets. Until he's caught up with how rough the streets can get after J.P's brother is kidnapped by a gang leader and held for a ransom of $350,000. The film riffs at this for quite a while which gives another style to this gangster thriller.
There are perhaps intriguing aspects to this, which manages to keep the film going to a particular standard, there's some dizzying action, with some fresh slow-mo shots, which we haven't seen before like a man being shot by a shotgun in his nether region. Also there is a moment when King tries to reach out to a bruised Mikey, by reading a letter that he wrote to his brother here he tries to seek emotion by shouting and giving moments of solidity to the film which can't save it. Despite the solid performances by Cage and Cusack who are left on the sidelines, the film is hacked 'n slashed by the director's historic tendencies.
VERDICT: While Cage and Cusack deliver solid performances, the rest of the film is half-assed, hobbled by the director's horrible decisions of historic tendencies.
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